Canada protecting freedom of the press and “bringing ASEAN to the people”

Participants of the Media Forum.

Journalists gather in Bangkok to learn about better reporting on ASEAN.


The nine recipients of the Probe Media Foundation’s fellowship for journalists under the Reporting ASEAN program.

“We believe nations flourish when the citizens are well-informed about the decisions that are affecting their lives and can have their say in shaping those decisions. To access this information, people need the media. It’s therefore imperative to protect freedom of the press and ensure that journalists can do their job in presenting information to citizens. “

Ambassador Marie-Louise Hannan

Powerful stories shape nations

Not only are journalists fighting for their right to report freely in Southeast Asia, they are also struggling to write powerful stories.

In 2014, Probe Media Foundation Inc (PMFI) together with the Inter Press Service (IPS) Asia-Pacific, the ASEAN Foundation and Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation started a media workshop, the Reporting ASEAN program.

The Reporting ASEAN program is in its second year and seeks to create a venue for journalists from the 10 ASEAN countries learn how to craft stories around ASEAN regionalism. Powerful stories can shape nations and increasing the capacity of journalists will help citizens of Southeast Asia member states better understand the Association and its implications on the people’s daily lives.

“It is imperative to protect freedom of the press and ensure that journalists can do their job in presenting information to citizens. This will support the media’s role in providing a better understanding of what ASEAN brings to the people and in holding their governments accountable to those decisions that will improve their lives.”

Ambassador Marie-Louise Hannan

Improving journalist’s capacity to write stories

The Mission of Canada to ASEAN supported Probe Media Foundation Inc.'s Reporting ASEAN workshop and media fellowship to help nine ASEAN journalists “bring ASEAN to the people.” One of the fellows, Mai Thieu Duong, shared her excitement of the day:

“Receiving your fellowship and joining the forum give me opportunities to work overseas and understand more about ASEAN. It inspires me to write more and improve awareness of Vietnamese about the ASEAN Community.

A diverse and interested audience was in attendance, including journalists, policy makers, diplomats and civil society from ASEAN countries and beyond.  Topics discussed included a review of ASEAN’s situation at its 50th year, review of ASEAN’s first year under the ASEAN Community (launched in early 2016), connecting the community, the South China Sea dispute.

The panel discussion that took place at the forum explored different ways to tell the ASEAN story. This enabled journalists who may not have been exposed to ASEAN news or issues to get a better understanding at close range.

Ambassador Hannan was pleased to record a TV interview with a national television station about the event.

Canada advancing democratic values

Canada has been a consistently strong voice for the protection of human rights and the advancement of democratic values. This started with our central role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947-1948 to our work at the United Nations today:

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

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